Presqu’ile Bird Report for the Week of 1-7 June 2018
By Doug McRae
Highlights: BLACK SCOTER, CATTLE EGRET, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, SNOWY OWL, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, NORTHERN PARULA.
Migration has definitely slowed to a crawl and most observations this week pertained to breeding birds, of which Presqu’ile has a great variety thanks to diverse habitats. Observers have also thinned out making this report a little skimpy in places.
Flocks of moult-migrant CANADA GEESE have been seen heading north on several dates including a flock of 145 on 7 Jun. Broods of the introduced and destructive MUTE SWAN are now being seen throughout the marsh, Presqu’ile Bay and even around Gull Is. GADWALL were seen on the beach several times this week with as many as four on 1 Jun and as recently as two today. 45 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen on 2 Jun and a rather late male BLACK SCOTER was seen the same day. A few RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are still around with six seen on 3 Jun and one today.
Three AMERICAN BITTERN seen in a loose group flying over the main road at the Beach 3 entrance on 7 Jun was interesting. LEAST BITTERNS continue to be seen from the causeway, Marsh Boardwalk Trail and the Camp Office Viewing Deck throughout the week. The GREAT EGRETS nesting on High Bluff Island can easily be scoped up from the northern part of the Beach if heat haze isn’t bad. The star heron is the on again, off again CATTLE EGRET on Huff Rd, just northwest of the park gate. It was seen on 3 Jun, 5 Jun, 6 Jun and 7 Jun.
Two OSPREY were seen in a prolonged display flight over the causeway on 7 Jun. An adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK with prey was flushed from the Owen Pt. Trail on 2 Jun. COOPER’S HAWKS were seen in two widely separate areas on 7 Jun. The pair of COMMON GALLINULE at the Camp Office on 7 Jun was the only members of the rail family reported.
Shorebirds have also really thinned out but several species lingered through the week. Six SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS were on the beach on 6-7 Jun. Nesting KILLDEER were seen on the beach with three young this morning. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS was seen on the late date of 1 Jun. A single RUDDY TURNSTONE was seen on 2 Jun, as well as three SANDERLING on June 1, and a single the next day. SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS were seen throughout the week with eight on 1 Jun, six on 2 Jun, nine on 6 Jun and one on 7 Jun. A WILSON’S SNIPE was still displaying over the gate on 6 Jun. Most surprising was a very rare spring report of a female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE seen by Park Staff on High Bluff Island on 1 Jun.
Gulls of note were scarce but included the only GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL of the week on 1 Jun and four sub-adult BONAPARTE’S GULL on 7 Jun. Insanely late and somewhat sluggish was a SNOWY OWL seen in the Beach 3 parking area on 1-2 Jun. Three CHIMNEY SWIFTS over Bayshore Rd. on 2 Jun are somewhat rare in summer. Someone photographed a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER near the staffhouse around 1 Jun and showed the picture to a local birder but the observer’s identity is not known. Subsequent searches have failed to turn it up but it may be nesting – stay tuned. Small numbers of BLUE JAYS are still being seen migrating east off Presqu’ile Point (the Lighthouse area) as recently as this morning.
Apart from the nesting species, migrant warblers were quite scarce. Notable were single NORTHERN PARULAS on 1 Jun and 3 Jun and three MAGNOLIA WARBLERS on 4 Jun. SONG SPARROWS with fledged young were seen on 7 Jun. Finally a PURPLE FINCH was seen at a Bayshore Rd. feeder on 4 Jun.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season.